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Secret No More: FBI Abbreviations and Acronyms


This index to once-secret FBI files is full of abbreviations common to the FBI, but arcane outside the Bureau.  Here is a guide to some of the more common abbreviations you may come across, and what those abbreviations stand for.  This abbreviation look-up is intended to grow as the index grows.

The FBI created many acronyms by its system–adopted early in its history–of naming cases in ways that could efficiently and economically be transmitted by teletype and wire.  Thus, a hypothetical case of a person suspected of spying in the United States for Germany during World War II may well have been called NAZISPY.  Where possible, such abbreviations are included.

ABSCAM Acronym for “Arab Scam,” ABSCAM was a 1970s investigation into susceptibility of members of Congress to bribery, using an FBI agent masquerading as an Arab businessman seeking to buy U.S. citizenship.
ACLU American Civil Liberties Union
AEC Atomic Energy Commission, the government agency which oversaw nuclear weapons and nuclear energy until its function was folded into the Department of Energy (DOE) in the 1970s.
aka or a/k/a Also known as, common law-enforcement parlance for indicating an individual may be known by another name.
BOPNO Bureau of Prisons Notorious Offender
BRIB Bribery
BRILAB FBI investigation into corruption of elected officials in the 1970s, named for the fictitious Louisiana shrimp company the FBI created as a cover.
BUND Pro-German groups, some of which were active in the U. S. during WWII.
CHILBOM FBI acronym for the investigation into the 1970s death of Chilean attache Orlando Letelier, whose car was bombed in Washington, DC
COINTELPRO FBI acronym for Counter-Intelligence Program, a campaign to discredit activist groups of the 1960s.
CORE Committee on Racial Equality, a 1960s civil rights group
CPUSA Communist Party of the United States of America
CWP Communist Workers Party
DCI Director, Central Intelligence (official title of the head of the CIA)
Deseg Desegregation. Federal effort that began in the 1940s to enforce, with federal troops where necessary, laws that prohibited different treatment of people because of the color of their skin.
DIES COM House of Representatives Special Investigation Committee, headed by Rep. Martin Dies Jr. (D-TX) from 1938-1944.
DOJ Department of Justice, the agency of the federal government with responsibility for the FBI
ESP Espionage
et. al. And others. Common legal terminology. From the Latin et alii, for and others.
FDR Franklin Delano Roosevelt, President (1933-1945)
FOIA Freedom of Information Act (5 USC 552)
FOR AGS REG AC Foreign Agents Registration Act, a law enacted in 1938 requiring those acting in the U.S. on behalf of a foreign government to disclose their activities.
IWW Industrial Workers of the World, also known as “the Wobblies”; labor group of the 1930s and 1940s.
JAP Abbreviation for “Japanese” common in the U. S. at the time of WWII, but now ethnically insensitive.
JCS Joint Chiefs of Staff, the military committee made up of the head of each branch of the Armed Forces that advises the Secretary of Defense.
JEH J. Edgar Hoover, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation from the 1920s through the 1960s
JFK John F. Kennedy, President (1961-1963)
KGB USSR Intelligence organization, initials stand for Russian words for “Committee of State Security.”
KKK Ku Klux Klan, an American white-supremacy group
LCN La Cosa Nostra, literally “Our Thing,” but shorthand for Italian and Italian-American organized-crime groups commonly known as “The Mafia.”
MEX-AM Mexican-American
Mil. Att. Military Attache
NOBP Notorious Offender, Bureau of Prisons (same as BOPNO, above)
OC Organized Crime
POW Prisoner of War
qpp file amb
RICO Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization, a legal term introduced in 1960s legislation that made it easier to prosecute organized-crime groups. Pronounced REE’-coh.
RYMUR FBI acronym for the investigation into the murder of Congressman Leo Ryan in 1978 in Jonestown, Guyana, at the jungle compound of Rev. Jim Jones and the People’s Temple.
SDS Students for a Democratic Society, a 1960s activist group
SNCC Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, 1960s activist group, generally pronounced Snick.
SLA Symbionese Liberation Army, activist group of the 1970s that assassinated a public official and kidnapped the daughter of a newspaper owner.
SSA Selective Service Act, also known as “the draft.” The law that allowed individuals to be compelled to serve in the Armed Forces from prior to WWII until the 1970s.
Supr Ct Supreme Court of the United States
SWP Socialist Workers Party
TVA Tennessee Valley Authority, government electrification project that began in the 1930s
USSR Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
WETH FUG Weather Underground Fugitive, members of a 1960s and 1970s terrorist group who became fugitives
WW1 World War I
WW2 World War II
YABMUR FBI investigation into the 1960s murders of United Mine Workers president Joseph Yablonski
Yippie Youth International Party, activist group of the late 1960s